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nations snakes owed a tribute of milk to a
similar opinion. Under these circumstances,
the snake was a symbol of life, of perpetual
youth, encouraging the belief of his right to
this honour by his habit of changing his

In Sclavonian tradition the notion of a
snake, as a household genius, is familiar
enough, and is accompanied by the affirmation
that every family lias its male and female
snakes, whose lives are closely connected with
those of the master and mistress of the house.
Of course, in this case, it is no light matter
to kill a snake, and a Pomeranian legend
tells how an avaricious father, grudging the
share of milk to which a snake helped itself
out of his little girl's plate, killed the animal
with a cudgel, but was punished by the early
death of his daughter. The superstitious of
Suabia are no less friendly to the existence
of these reptiles, and the peasant is warned by
the traditions of his village not to resent a
friendly visit, which a snake may happen to
pay. Certainly these snakes, who help
themselves out of children's bowls, are very good-
natured creatures. They allow the children
to tap them with a spoon, whenever they are
eating too fast, and rather take it as a
compliment than otherwise. One young Suabian
damsel, to be sure, had the misfortune to
swallow a small snake accidentally in a
draught of water, which had the effect of
rendering her exceedingly fat, and did not
destroy the snake's propensity for milk.
Whenever the damsel had milked her cows,
she was overpowered with such weariness
that she fell asleep, and the snake crawling
out of her mouth drank the milk from the
pail, and then crawled back to its warm
abode. In this case, the destruction of the
snake, during one of its trips to the pail, was
found serviceable, for the girl lost her
unseemly fatness.

In the exceedingly ugly mythology of the
Prussian aborigines, the snake has a virtuous
aspect. These Prussians worshipped three
strange gods, Perkuu, Potrimpos, and
Picollos, whose images stood under a sacred
oak, and were honoured by a fire, which was
kept perpetually burning. Ecclesiastical
discipline was severe, for if the fire went out the
priests were put to death. The oak was six
yards in diameter, and so thick were its leaves,
that the worshippers had not the slightest
chance of being inconvenienced by any
inclemency of the weather. However, it was not
accessible every day, but was effectually
concealed by silk curtains, six yards high, which
were only opened by the priests on grand
occasions. The image of the chief deity
Perkun stood between the other two, To his
right was Potrimpos, the dispenser of
temporal blessings, with a beardless chin and
a head crowned with ears of corn, and to his
left was Picollos, a haggard individual with a
long beard, and a pale facethe impersonation
of death.

Now, Picollos was a very terrible deity.
His symbol was a collection of three skulls
one of a man, another of a horse, a third of a
cow. He rejoiced in the sacrifice of life,
without being very particular whether the
victim offered to him was a human being,
an ox, a hare, a goat, or a pig; though he
had no objection to a pot of tallow. It was
no wonder that the mild deity, Potrimpos,
who scattered blessings around him, and
was contented with having wheat-sheaves
as a sacrifice, should be preferred to the evil,
destructive Picollos, nor that the snake, who
was sacred to him, should be held in especial
esteem. For, according to the creed of the
ancient Prussians, there was no more honourable
service than that of rearing a snake in a
large room, and feeding it with milk, to the
glory of the good Potrimpos. When the
Teutonic knights conquered Prussia, the
worship of Potrimpos was destroyed, but the
snake and its taste for milk still exist in
popular legends.

Snakes being so high in honour, it is not at
all unnatural that they should wear golden
crowns; and, indeed, we often find them in
guise of this sort, in the field of German
tradition. Not above a hundred years ago, it
is said, a snake with a crown on its head, and
a bunch of keys about its neck, appeared on
the Spitzberg, near Tubingen, and, after
carefully laying down its crown, washed itself
in the Neckar. A snake, also adorned with a
gold diadem, visited a ropemaker's child at
Stuttgart, calling, according to ancient practice,
at breakfast-time. The moral of this
story, by the way, is very bad, for the rope-
maker killed the snake with a hatchet, took
the crown, and thereby became marvellously

That the snakes attach great importance to
their golden crowns we learn from a tradition of
the Nagold in Suabia. A man, who saw a snake
take oif its crown in order to bathe, snatched
up the ornament, and fled with it up a tree.
When the snake returned from its bath, and
missed the crown, it uttered a piercing cry,
which brought hundreds of snakes from all
directions. They commenced a vigilant search
for the lost treasure, but as their wisdom did
not lead them to look up into the tree, they
at last gave up this task in despair. As for
the poor snake that had lost its crown, and
appeared to be king of the party, it returned
in the evening to the spot where the theft
had been committed, and died of a broken

Crowned snakes are ordinary even to
platitude in German tales, but a sneezing snake
is more remarkable. Such a snake was once
seen and heard by a Suabian glazier, who v/as
so deeply moved by the unusual talent, that he
consulted the village priest on the subject.
The priest recommended him to answer the
sneeze with the usual civility of "God bless
you!" and, armed with this counsel, he boldly
set out to visit the phenomenon. Twice did